RISING UP: John McCain and the Lack of Bipartisan Support for Israel
John ‘Maverick’ McCain carries a certain amount of clout to his name awarded by his peers and the American populace over the years, and a distinct reputation as one of the last true advocates of bipartisan collaboration for his numerous efforts to extend beyond party bounds to support the greater good of the American people. Such is the legacy by which his political service will be characterized for years to come. He’s never been one to acquiesce to the ideals or ulterior motives of others, be it constituents or donors--a prevalent component of the Washington political machine, regrettably--or fellow politicians, or the media, even if it means he needs to ‘maverick’ on a particular issue, and adopt an unpopular stance for all the right reasons. For those that are current with secular American politics, you’ll remember he shocked his party and the world with a resounding ‘thumbs down’ to nix the proposed healthcare bill in 2017, among other contentious decisions possibly detrimental to his long term political career, but true to his beliefs. He’s good people for his evident moral compass, and is also somewhat unique compared to many other politicians: McCain is a truly logical thinker, and supportive of whatever position makes sense to him.
He applies his nearly infallible logical reasoning to the complex issues surrounding the Middle East and Israel, and while Republicans as a cohort comprise a significant amount of Israel’s American support base, Senator McCain doesn’t rely on his party’s alignment with Israel to influence his understanding of what’s going on. Instead, McCain reaches the conclusion that Israel is a free and democratic and just state, through his logical reasoning:
McCain always takes an ‘America first’ approach to any and all political matters, applying his sensibility to assess ramifications for the American people--a tactic surprisingly little-used by American politicians. He reasons that American support for the welfare of the State of Israel can only prove beneficial for American national security efforts. Having a staunchly democratic ally as a proxy in the Middle East can only have an upside for America, logics McCain. A focal point of the McCain 2008 campaign and his work as a senator since has emphasized the eradication of Islamic extremism, and Israel is at the forefront of this effort due to its geographic proximity to the terrorist activities of the region. In a 2008 campaign trail interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of the Atlantic, McCain described Iran as “hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, they're hell-bent on driving us out of Iraq, they're hell-bent on supporting terrorist organizations, and as serious as anything to American families, they're sending explosive devices into Iraq that are killing American soldiers.”
And of course, McCain is completely correct, on all of the above. A top-priority of the Iranian government is the swift annihilation of Israel, a sentiment purportedly shared by much of their population. McCain dually recognizes that Israel is America’s best shot at eliminating Islamic fundamentalism at the source of the problem, before it fully reaches the United States. And Israel simultaneously upholds democratic ideals in a predominantly theocratic Middle East, promoting American interests abroad just by implementing democracy. Ensuring mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two nations is the logical route to take. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out, just a simple understanding of the facts, something disturbingly lacked by many--maybe even most--Americans.
While McCain prides himself on being an individual in all respects, he’s emblematic of a shrinking cohort of moderates in Congress, who place political points below righteousness. Chuck Schumer being an example from the other side of the political spectrum, who remains justifiably committed to Israel, breaking from the typical Democrat ideology on Israel. But unfortunately, other political figures have in recent years discounted the truth on a host of issues, including Israel, fully undoing the ethical work of senators and congressman like McCain and Schumer.
McCain’s outlook on politics is exactly what the political world is currently lacking, making it all the more unfortunate that his health issues, battles with brain cancer among other complex diagnoses, have kept him from promoting bipartisanship for the past months. As much as the world has been reluctant to say it over the past few days and as much as it pains me to acknowledge, John McCain is dying, and it seems the pursuit of truth may die with him, for if the majority of politicians nowadays even remotely resembled the way McCain operates, support for Israel would be indisputable, irrefutable and certainly, common ground across the aisle.